Wednesday, August 16, 2006

KABHI ALVIDA NAA KEHNA


How does a director mature? How does a filmmaker attempt to get serious? How does Karan Johar try to shift gears from teenage mush to adult post-marital blues? Well by merely talking about it, because for all the interviews and buzz about Bollywood’s Peter Pan growing up, he has virtually nothing to show for it in ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’.

Okay, kudos to Karan for telling it like it is. One CAN fall in love after marriage. One HAS every right to explore a relationship honestly post marriage. DOWN with being moralistic about extra-marital sex if you indeed are in a relationship. And yes, by all means do go ahead and TIE that knot a second time. But unfortunately films aren’t made ONLY to showcase a filmmaker’s outlook.

Portraying extra-marital relationships and its fallouts isn’t exactly child’s play. And after earlier films like ‘Arth’, ‘Masoom’ and ‘Silsila’ which have handled the subject somewhat deftly, Karan Johar’s multi-crore attempted tear jerker remains a one-dimensional showpiece. The film for me failed to go beyond being a visual catalogue of Manish Malhotra’s designer wear and Sharmishta Roy’s art work. Directorially Johar continues to play with his doll house. His Archie, Betty and Veronica have only passed Riverdale High to walk down the aisle.

Shah Rukh as a cynical limping football junkie, Preity as a career woman playing the ‘man’ of the house, a confused much-married Rani still looking for Mr Right and Bachchan Jr. as the patient hubby sound great on paper and remain just that. Virtually none of the characters manage to breathe life into their parts on screen. Can we see Shah Rukh a little more on the field? Can we see a football freak WEAR his passion? Can we see him have a real relationship with his son? Can we see Rani a little beyond the New York Station? Can people loosen up and sit down in their homes to talk instead of acting like props at the local interiors shop? Can we see Shah Rukh Khan fall in love with Rani at some point of time and vice-versa? Can they act like passionate adults in an unconventional relationship instead of looking like two kids out to play whilst their parents are away? Can we feel the tension in the air when they are out together romancing behind their partner’s back? Can we NOT see Rani cleaning the floor in black designer cocktail party wear? Can Karan Johar grow up and think up of something more soulful than a silly Black Beast caper to make SRK and Rani meet? Can Karan Johar really grow up?

The film has its moments. Like when after an early morning jog a limping SRK tells Preity ‘lets walk home together’ and she has already sprinted ahead, like the scene where Preity and Rani walk towards SRK on a busy Manhattan street unknown of each other’s presence or the dinner table scene where Amitabh Bachchan gives SRK a million-dollar look. But for a 200 minute long movie they are too few and far in between.

Frankly I loved ‘Kuch Kuch Hota Hai’ for it’s freshness and enjoyed ‘Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham’ for all it’s grandeur. But ‘Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna’ is a disappointment. If this is really any sign of Karan Johar growing up, I wish he wouldn’t.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

WHAT IF...?


Hui muddat ke Ghalib mar gaya par aaya yaad aata hai,
Woh har ek baat pe kehna ke yun hota toh kya hota
-Mirza Ghalib

Years after playing the Urdu poet on the small screen Naseeruddin Shah breathes life into his verse on the big screen. Naseer's debut piece has nothing to do with either Ghalib or Urdu poetry; in fact it unreels like a short story.
For an actor who has delighted the classes, masses and critics alike for about three decades - it's hard to take on the task of a director at 57 without building expectations. But thankfully the actor/filmmaker does not disappoint.

Striking a perfect balance between content and style Naseer draws his audience into four disparate tales that finally intertwine for a chilling climax. A structure that's been emulated since Altman and more recently Innaritu's powerful Amores Perros; Naseer adds subtle touches to each narrative. And you know that being the actor he is - would get his casting right to the T.
Irfan as the stock-broker on the run, Konkona as the frustrated new bride, Ankur as the confused graduate and Paresh Rawal as the boisterous showman deliver and how. A couple of story tracks (Irafan and Ankur's) suffer due to what I believe was a few abrupt last minute butchering on the edit table, making them slightly disjointed. The film is also backed by an able second lead of actors including Ratna Pathak, Ayesha Takia, Boman Irani and surprise - Saroj Khan.

What the film majorly loses points on is - repeat value. YHTKH is like a fizzy soft drink - you don't want to return to it for seconds coz the fizz is out and the bubbles' burst. And it's hard to review the film in all aspects since I don't want to riddle my piece with spoilers.
But all said and done Naseer has not played it safe, he's walked the cinematic tightrope marrying entertainment and aesthetics. I believe he's made the successful transition from an actor to filmmaker with aplomb because he stuck to the basics of the medium - telling a good story and telling it well. Here's looking forward to his next (which hopefully will star Naseer himself as well!)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

KRRISH




India’s first definitive superhero? Definitely not! For starters, the guy turns ‘superhero’ only in the second half and to top it he’s never in India when he finally does become 'Krrish'. Also unlike a Superman, Batman or a Spiderman – Krrish doesn’t chase the bad guy to save humankind - he leaps, jumps and zips around to rescue his father (so bloody selfish!). And yes he does save the odd kid from getting killed on a Singapore road while he is on his vengeance trip.

After the completely ‘paisa-vasool’ Koi Mil Gaya Rakesh Roshan disappoints with a premise which holds so much promise. Bad script, Bad acting, Bad camerawork, Bad music, Bad direction… unfortunately Hrithik as ‘Krrish’ has to battle the bad guys AND all these Bad, Bad, Bad elements that plague the film. The first part attempts to rest on a comedy and romance track that’s so weak and ancient that you wonder WHAT the six contributors to the screenplay had in mind. Priyanka Chopra crash lands into a forest and literally puts on a babe-in-the-woods act, but fails to impress (you could replace her with a rag doll and no one would notice).

Naseer enters the plot you think things are going to speed up BUT then comes the biggest surprise of all – the ‘Baap of all actors’ puts on whats probably his worst act till date. The story plods along pushing products like Tide, Bournvita, Lays etc. heading nowhere in particular. The most disappointing aspect of it all is that whats been sold as a superhero film is just not a superhero film. Leaping across buildings, waltzing through bullets and taking on 6 baddies at the same time – come on, Amitabh Bachchan and co. have been doing that (and quite convincingly) for decades now.

But truth is ‘Krrish’ is setting the box-office on fire. It’s first week collections reportedly crossed the 60 crore mark! So the real superhero out there is the marketing team at Filmkraft which has managed to sell the just the idea of ‘Krrish the superhero’ by stringing together the best 30 seconds of stunts there is in the film into a promo. As for India’s first definitive superhero… give me ‘Mr India’ any day!